This week, I’m joining Jeff Goins for his Slow Down Challenge. If you want to participate, sign up for the free Slow Down Challenge email list. Also, you might consider grabbing a copy of his book, The In-Between. Jeff is such an inspiration to me as a writer and I highly recommend reading all of his books, if you have a chance!
I’ve been reading The Myth of Multitasking recently. It’s a really simple read, but it’s been very thought-provoking.
I always thought I was a pretty good multitasker. Now I’m not so sure. You see, according to the book — and I’m beginning to be persuaded it’s true — there is no such thing as true multitasking.
Instead, the author makes the case that what we call “multitasking” is really just an inefficient way of switch-tasking. When we are trying to do two things at once, we’re really just switching back and forth between two different things — taking a much longer time to do both.
(The author does say that there’s such a thing as background tasking, where you are listening to music while cleaning, etc. But when it comes to tasks that require concentration, he makes a strong case that multitasking is a misnomer.)
Today’s project for the Slow Down Challenge was to focus completely on one task until it was finished. I chose the task of writing four handwritten cards that I’ve been meaning to write for two weeks. The project has been on my to-do list for two weeks and it was high time I finish it.
So I got the cards out, set the timer for 20 minutes, and jumped in. I did really well at focusing for 20 minutes, but I only had written 1 1/2 cards by then (yes, these were long handwritten notes — I had a lot I wanted to express in them!). I kept plodding along, but I realized that I had a lot of trouble staying completely on task after 20 minutes.
I finally finished up the cards at the 50-minute mark. And it felt really, really good to have them done, but I also realized that I need to work on my concentration more. Or, maybe just accept that I need to split my tasks up into 20-minute blocks since that seems to be about my maximum time-frame for working with focused intensity?
Confession time: I did stop one to briefly talk with Jesse and I also checked my email on my phone a few times. But I promise it was after the 20-minute mark. 🙂